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Turkey’s media manipulation: from denial to 'so what?'

All Turkish actors, from the government to the media to religious groups, need to recognize their limits to avoid the trend toward an illiberal society.
A copy of Tutuklu Gazete, published as a free supplement in leftist Turkish newspapers on Sunday July 24, 2011, is seen in this photo illustration taken in Istanbul July 25, 2011. The dozens of Turkish journalists writing for the Tutuklu Gazete newspaper have very personal reasons to be concerned about media freedom in their EU-candidate country. They are all in jail. From prison cells across Turkey, they have contributed articles to a paper protesting against restrictions on freedom of expression which hav

In the past couple of years, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey has routinely been criticized for putting pressure on the media. Both at home and abroad, journalists have complained that the government, especially the inner circle of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tries to manipulate newspapers and news channels for their own political benefit. A May 2013 report by the Center for American Progress, for example, noted that there is “direct pressure on owners of news outlets from government officials and more subtle forms of self-censorship from editors and journalists afraid of dismissal.”

The response of the government to these allegations has often been silence or denial. The latter has come particularly from Yalcin Akdogan, an AKP deputy and close adviser to Erdogan, in his articles and tweets. For example, he wrote in 2013 that the government is certainly not engaged in any “pressure, control or intervention” with regard to the media.

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